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I don't want to be a downer, but like you, your hard drive will eventually die. And when it does, your documents, photos, music, and movies are going to die with it, unless you make a backup of those files. And really you must. The reason many people give for not backing up is that it's too difficult to configure. Apple addresses that issue with Time Machine, the bundled backup utility that makes backing up your data incredibly easy. It works like this. First of all get a new hard drive that your Mac has never seen and plug it in to your Mac.
Time Machine will ask you if you'd like to use this hard drive to back up your data, and yes of course, you do want to, so I am going to Use as Backup Disk. I am going to rename this, so that I know what this is for. I want to call it Backup. As you can see, it's going to tell me how soon it will be before I start backing up. Now let's look at Options. Here you can decide what you don't want to backup. So I will click the plus button, backup to my hard drive. I don't really want to backup the System folder, because I can always reinstall Lion.
So I am going to click Exclude. Now when I choose this Option, it will tell me that I've chosen to exclude the System folder. I can choose to either Exclude Just The System Folder or All System Files. If I do that, I will also exclude things like the library files, and that's okay, because I can always reinstall Lion and have this stuff back and then bring back my data. I'm really concerned about my data, not nearly so much about the system itself. Now let's exclude a more typical folder. I will go to the Plus button, go to my Documents folder.
Now I am going to go down to my Work folder. I do want to back that up; however, I don't want to back up this old Blueprints folder. I have lots of old files in there that I no longer need. I don't need to use up space, particularly because these are big files on my backup drive. So I click Exclude and now I see that those are excluded as well. Now that I've set things up as I want them, I click on Save. I see a counter that tells me it's going to backup in hundred and some odd seconds, and let's just show the Time Machine's status in the menu bar.
When Time Machine kicks in, you'll actually see this thing move and I can make it move by selecting Back Up Now. And as you can see, the arrow was turning, indicating that my machine is being backed up to my backup drive, and if you'd look in the Time Machine system preference, you see what it's doing. It's preparing backup, and then once it's ready to do that, it will do a counter to show me how much data is being copied over. Also in the Finder, when this is happening, you will see that it's calculating size, and this tells you that I'm not quite ready to back up yet, but I will soon.
So for now I'm going to click the Stop Backup button and that's how it stops backing up. There are other options. You can also go to the menu bar, and if it is backing up, you can also stop the backup from the menu bar. Now suppose I want to use a different disk. I'll just click Select Disk. I don't happen to have another disk. If I did, it would be available here. I would select Install for example if I had a Time Capsule, I could select it, Use Backup Disk, and then it will back up to that other disk.
This is one option if you've already filled up a disk and you want to use another disk to continue to back up. We won't do that now, and we'll Cancel. Now let's go forward in time. I have been backing up this during the past several days, and so let's see how this works. So I will open my Documents folder. I am going to take these documents here. I am going to throw them away, so off they go to the Trash.
Now I am going to enter Time Machine by clicking on the Time Machine icon in the dock, and keep an eye on this Documents folder. Now here is our current state. Now watch what happens when I go back in time by clicking these arrows. Aha! There are those files that I just tossed out. I can also navigate by clicking on window title bars and along the right side here, you see these bars indicating dates and times when backups were performed. So I can go back to yesterday for example, and I see that I have files here that have since been deleted.
If I want to get those files back, I select them within Time Machine and I simply click Restore, and here they are. My file has been copied from the backup drive onto my regular drive, and they have been restored. This is something you want to check every so often, because it's great that you set up a Time Machine back up, but if you don't verify that it actually works, in case of an emergency, you may be disappointed, if it doesn't actually do what you wanted to do.
I will show you one other interface element of Time Machine. I am going to open Address Book. Here is the Address Book. I can go back in time in Address Book as well. However, when I do it here, I maintain the Address Book iInterface. So let's go back a bit, until I find a contact that I have deleted. Keep going, no, there it is. David Banner, I accidentally tossed him out and I shouldn't, because he is a superhero.
So let's bring him back by clicking Restore, yes indeed I do, and David is back in my Address Book. So as you can see, restoring from Time Machine is not only effective, but it's real easy and it's awfully darn pretty. If you've been using Time Machine in previous versions of the OS, one thing to be aware of, while you can restore from Time Machine using the Address Book interface, you can no longer do this with iPhoto.
It used to be, you could open iPhoto, select an Album, go back in time and stay within that iPhoto interface. You can no longer do that. Now what you have to do is actually restore your entire iPhoto Library. That's a new and not necessarily improved feature of Lion. And that's how to backup and restore your data with Time Machine.
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